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Conditionality of Social Rights after Brexit

   Vice Chancellor's PhD Studentships

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  Dr Eglė Dagilytė, Dr David Smith  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This cross-disciplinary project will investigate how the social rights originating from the European Union’s (EU) Charter of Fundamental Rights have been reflected in UK laws and their practical implementation after Brexit.

The key focus of the research will be on the conditions under which people in the EU and the UK become eligible for social rights - healthcare, welfare benefits, housing, or education. These conditions differ across the EU. Often, such conditions – or ‘conditionality’ - constitute legal and administrative barriers to people’s social rights and access to social justice. This project will investigate how such barriers could be overcome in line with EU law.

In the UK, there is leading research on welfare conditionality, but no projects linking social rights to conditionality, despite the UK being a party to the ICESCR and the European Social Charter. 

In the context of EU law and policy, despite its central importance, there have been few attempts to systematically question what conditionality means. Most attempts in the literature focus on certain areas of EU law that have an external dimension, for example, EU accession, social and human rights conditionalities in the European Union’s free trade agreements and external trade relations. Therefore, there is a gap for a more careful theoretical multifaceted thinking and practical surveying on the concept of conditionality and how it relates to the practical implementation of social rights.

The successful applicant will adopt a mixed methods approach that will be supported by the supervisory team. The methods may include document, socio-legal or policy analysis combined with empirical fieldwork (interviews, focus groups, online surveys, FOI requests). 

The team of two supervisors supporting the Scholar are highly experienced and cross-disciplinary (law, social policy/sociology). It is also a diverse team combining different linguistic capabilities (English, Lithuanian, Russian). The supervisory team are experienced in researching marginalised people and minority communities.

The Scholar will be embedded in the ARU Centre for Access to Justice and Inclusion:

The findings from this project will inform the work of European, national and local stakeholders that regulate and apply the conditions under which EU citizens can access their social rights at home and abroad. Therefore, the project can open doors beyond academia, including policy-making, think-tanks or working in the non-governmental sector supporting clients with social rights matters. 

If you would like to discuss this research project prior to application please contact Dr Eglė Dagilytė (egle.dagilyte(@)

Candidate requirements

Applicants should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a cognate discipline. A Masters’ degree in a relevant subject is desirable.

Applicants must be prepared to study on a full-time basis, attending at our Cambridge campus. The Vice Chancellor’s PhD scholarship awards are open to Home fee status applicants only.

Application Procedures

Applications for a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship are made through the application portal on our website:

We will review all applications after the submission deadline of 6th June. We will contact shortlisted applicants in the week commencing 20th June. Interviews will be held between 27th June - 8th July.

If you have any queries relating to the application process or the terms and conditions of the scholarships, please email [Email Address Removed]

Documentation required

You will need the following documents available electronically to upload them to the application portal (we can accept files in pdf, jpeg or Word format):

  1. Certificates and transcripts from your Bachelor and Masters degrees, (if applicable)
  2. Your personal statement explaining your suitability for the project (please upload this in the "research outline" section of the application form).
  3. Passport and visa (if applicable)
  4. Curriculum Vitae

Funding Notes

This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s scholarship award, which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship Terms and conditions, which can be found on our website:
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